everything old is new again

Honor lost

May 11, 2004
Honor lost

Via Teresa Neilsen Hayden, who got it via Arkhangel, comes this truly brilliant piece of writing. Arkhangel is a former military man and a great writer. Read this piece, it’s worth it — emphasis is mine.

There is no honor.

I saw Don Rumsfeld’s testimony today, and there is no honor. Certainly, the other men present at the witness table did not acquit themselves well, but in the end, it comes down to Rumsfeld and the President. And there is no honor.

“Who was in charge? What was the chain of command?” Simple questions, these. Asked by John McCain, an honorable man. Simple questions, deserving of a simple answer. But the simple answer never made it past the lips of the Secretary. There were evasions and dodges, a dance of deceit, if you will.

No one was in charge, it seems—because that way, the only people who suffer punishment are the sergeants and privates in the photographs and videos. And as for the chain of command, well…uh…well, that was left behind somewhere in the recesses of the Pentagon. And there is no honor in that.

“When did you see the pictures?” Another simple question, asked by another honorable man, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, deserving of a simple answer. Answered not with a simple answer, but with a desperate dodge.

Certainly, the Secretary had his defenders. The schools, the schools, they cried, all of them—Hutchinson and Dole, and two men who wouldn’t know honor, dignity and grace if they went twelve bloody rounds with them. I speak of Saxby Chambliss and Jeff Sessions, and the less spoken about them, the better.

But what of the schools? What of all the good we’ve done there? So what? Does it make the horrors we’ve seen, and those we’ve yet to see any more excusable? Is this what Republican morality is all about? Getting an extramarital blowjob in the Oval Office is a national crisis, but you can abuse and torment all the Iraqis you want—just make sure you build them 2,000 schools to make up for it.

And just when you thought one side had the market cornered on moral hypocrisy, you had Saint Joe Lieberman, patron saint of pious sanctimony, try to wash away the sins of Abu Ghraib by saying that since the Secretary had apologized (the way a six-year-old apologizes, only after being caught red-handed with the broken shards of pottery in his hands), and the 9/11 hijackers hadn’t, that made things better.

I thought the world of Joe, once. Not anymore—I despise his empty bromides, his saccharine piety. If there was any way I could run against him in two years, I would. Hey, Sen. Dodd, there’s something you can do with all that money you’re squirrelling away: get someone to run against this sorry excuse for a Democrat.

I harbor no illusions that Secretary Rumsfeld will resign, or be impeached. The President is far too mired in the muck, the web of deceit, corruption, and irresponsibility for him to fire one of his closest advisors—because ultimately, the final responsibility lies with him, in the Oval Office.

Truly the best writing I’ve seen on the issue. Read the comments for the post above, too — Rich Puchalsky rips apart the straw man arguments of another commenter named Addison Ingle who tries to justify the use of torture.

Now to add Arkhangel to my must-reads.

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